News flash: getting a boatload of followers on social media is not that big of a deal. It may surprise you to know that the silliest pages, sometimes pornographic in nature (which is illegal according to Facebook rules) and hate pages get huge "likes" - but of course, are rarely commented on. In contrast, even a page that only has about five thousand to ten thousand likes - but that always has conversation going on - is better for business. When people see activity happening, that's when they feel more attracted to a brand.
It's preferable to engage your core following than to simply amass thousands of fans who generally like you but don't ever get involved in your business. The aim of social media is to create a page that encourages sharing and back-and-forth discussion. In theory, a page that has thousands of followers but very little in social engagement is a failure. Nobody cares about the brand, but sees the page as a nuisance that keeps popping up in their feed.
Consider these five ways engagement helps...
1. It protects you from a Facebook smackdown
This is not to suggest that having 100,000 likes is unimpressive - it's great if you can achieve that naturally... just know that many Facebook page owners simply pay off networks of spammers to generate superficial likes for appearance's sake. This underhanded tactic can even count against your website's publicity, as Facebook's algorithm may punish you for manipulating likes and shares. One of the ways the company tracks this is by counting how many likes you have compared to the actual amount of social engagement. If there's a discrepancy you could be penalized, making it less likely your content will be shown in user News Feeds.
2. More engagement means more brand awareness
Likes don't mean anything when it comes to brand awareness. Liking a page once may help a user to remember the name, but they could easily hide your updates from their Feed, or skim through it without a second thought. By contrast, more engagement - that is evoking comments and shares from you - is more likely to keep your name, mission, values and company culture fresh in a consumer's mind. Share popular content a few times a week and they'll begin to look forward to your daily announcements. That's greater brand awareness.
3. Sometimes social media engagement is about solving problems, not looking perfect
If you have five thousand likes, but nothing in the way of testimonials, then that still leaves a question in the viewer's mind. What if there was criticism but you just censored it by deleting the comments? Instead, letting a person air their grievances and then trying to offer a compromise may serve as a permanent testimonial as to your customer service. That creates brand trust, which is even more powerful than brand awareness.
4. Capitalize on your competition's weakness
You might be surprised to learn that some of the largest brands in the world have this exact problem - terrible engagement rates but millions of likes. This can actually give you ideas on what they're not doing, so that you can improve your own campaign. Spy on them and observe if their campaigns are thriving (and what you can borrow and adapt to your own company) or if they're failing and why customers don't seem to care enough to respond. Are they not asking enough open-ended questions? Are they not giving their customers a chance to have fun and shine?
5. If they "know" the brand, they become your brand evangelizers
Brand evangelizers are a wonderful gift that often come out of nowhere. People that develop loyalty to you and spread the word - usually at no charge - often make waves better than a publicity agent. Of course, loyalty isn't just requested, it has to be earned through customer retention. He or she must feel some responsibility towards your brand. Once they feel as if they know the brand, or are an expert in your industry (and can shine to others), they will start commenting more frequently and probably defending you, as they now view you as an accessory to their own success. Share the glory and get some enthusiastic followers - it works wonder for engagement.
Mendy Gansbourg, founder of the new Italian espresso brand CaffeFuria, has focused highly on customer engagement in his business. He cites a very prolific example of brand engagement and why it matters this late in the game.
"It's not just a matter of being seen. It's a matter of making sure the social media engine is being utilized. Remember that the more people like, share and comment on your post, the more their Facebook algorithm is updated, and the more your posts are highlighted on a day to day basis. It's a momentum game and it's best to keep them occupied by consistently evoking or even provoking full conversations."
The key word when it comes to social media should always be 'engagement'. Engage the right people and your business will thrive.
Main image via Shutterstock